Minutes after the grant guy leaves, Ms. Jackson pulls me aside in the hallway. "Hey, I took a look at your proposal and I'm impressed."
"Thanks," I answer awkwardly.
"I corrected the grammar and punctuation - and with a pencil nonetheless."
"I'm impressed. Did you read it?"
"Yeah. I think you made a mistake, though."
"You included me as one of the three teachers who will pilot the program."
"Would you be interested?"
She gets real shy and sheepish, turns away for awhile and says, "I . . . I don't know. I know it's silly, but I don't know about cameras and phonographs and pencils and everything. I'm used to what I'm doing. I guess I'm actually a little scared."
"You're the best sixth grade teacher we have. I know that I sound like a politician saying this, but it's true. And I need your help in how to teach well. Maybe I can help you with the tech stuff."
"Tom, you're a great teacher and I'm up for this plan."
So, she agrees and adds a bunch of awkward self-deprecating humor. We're not used to encouraging one another - not real encouragement. Sure, I might say, "You have a really pretty new mustang. I bet it has a ton of horsepower" or "Nice mutton chops. They have a real Chester Arthur look to them." But no one compliments another teacher on anything deeper.
Perhaps it's that we're the first generation of teachers to work in a factory school and on some level, we all still interact as if we are in one-room school houses. I'm at home with my students. I can take their compliments and add my own feedback and yet, move into the hallway and hear a compliment from a teacher and it shakes me up a bit.